LIONS HOLD OFF GREYHOUNDS, 88-77, FOR FIRST CONFERENCE VICTORY
A&M-Commerce 88, Eastern New Mexico 77
Location: The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (6-7, 1-4 LSC); Eastern New Mexico (9-6, 2-4 LSC)
Up Next: vs. Abilene Christian • Wednesday, Jan. 11 • 8 p.m. • The Field House
COMMERCE, Texas -- Paced by 21 points from both Desmond King and Preston Whitley, A&M-Commerce used a late 11-0 run in the waning minutes of the game to pull away from Eastern New Mexico 88-77 at the Field House to notch its first Lone Star Conference victory of the season.
Whitley notched 11 of his season-high 21 points in the second half, finishing with four rebounds and two assists for the Lions. King also came on strong in the second, recording 17 of his 21 points in the final 20 minutes while finishing with six rebounds and an assist.
Brad Hambrick chipped in 15 points in the Lion victory, including hitting a pair of three pointers to become the first player in A&M-Commerce program history to knock down 200 three-pointers in his career. Hambrick also dished out five assists with a pair of rebounds and a steal.
Devondrick Walker also had his most productive day in a Lion uniform, finishing with a career-best 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, including hitting all five of his shots from the floor, including three three-pointers. Andrew Davis added eight points and seven rebounds with LaBree Sledge dishing out 10 assists to go along with his five points. Mouhamadou N'doye also had a pair of blocks for A&M-Commerce.
Looking to snap an early-season four-game LSC skid, A&M-Commerce raced out to an early five-point lead at 10-5, only to see Eastern New Mexico recover to claim a five-point lead of its own at 21-16. It was that kind of half as both teams exchanged runs, with A&M-Commerce establishing momentum late in the stanza, building as much as an eight-point cushion at 36-28 before heading to halftime with a 40-35 advantage.
Eastern New Mexico regained momentum early in the second half, outscoring the Lions 12-3 to open the half and build a four-point lead at 47-43 at the 14:38 mark. After tying the game on a pair of occasions, and facing a 54-52 deficit, the Lions made another run of their own, outscoring the Greyhounds 13-5 to reclaim a six-point lead at 65-59 with 8:14 to play.
The Greyhounds continued to battle, however, pulling to within one on a pair of occasions, the last of which came at 66-65 with 6:05 to play. Leading 76-73 with 4:27 remaining, A&M-Commerce staged its final charge, stringing together an 11-0 run, including a thunderous dunk from King, to take control of the game at 87-73 and never looked back, taking the 88-77 decision.
A&M-Commerce had another hot night from the floor, shooting 60.9 percent for the game, including hitting 15 of 23 shots (65.2 percent) in the first half. But it was the Lions' accuracy from long range that proved to be the difference as A&M-Commerce hit 10 of its 16 three-point shots (62.5 percent), compared to just 11-of-32 for the Greyhounds (34.4 percent). The Lions did struggle from the free throw line, hitting just 59.5 percent (22-of-37), compared to 93.3 percent (14-of-15) for Eastern New Mexico.
Tralyn Harden led the way for Eastern New Mexico, finishing with 18 points while Stefan Mirabal added 14 points and four assists. Reggie Nelson recorded 13 points and seven assists for the Greyhounds with Aaron Edwards adding 10 points and seven rebounds.
The victory over the Greyhounds was the ninth-straight for A&M-Commerce as the Lions improve to 35-17 all-time against Eastern New Mexico. A&M-Commerce also snapped its season-opening four-game Lone Star Conference losing streak and has now won four of its last five games.
A&M-Commerce will look to build on this victory by remaining at home, welcoming Abilene Christian to Commerce on Wednesday, January 11. Opening tip against the Wildcats will be at 8 p.m. at the Field House. Fans unable to make the game can listen online at KETR.org and follow live stats at LionAthletics.com.